To What Extent Is Othello Considered To

Be A Tragic Hero? Essay, Research Paper


Othello, a noble moor, general in the Venetian army. Othello is considered to be a Tragic Hero. What is a Tragic Hero? To find the meaning of a tragic hero we must define what a tragic and hero mean. A tragic event is disastrous, dreadful or fateful. A tragic story or play has a serious theme usually results in death or defeat. In real life an example of a tragic event is unrequited love or a young person killed in a car crash. A hero is a man who displays courage or noble qualities. Normally perceived as a muscular, handsome man who dresses in a tight fitting costume. A tragic hero is a man who displays courage or noble qualities, but has a fatal flaw, which is exposed and can be twisted by any villain.

Othello´s fatal flaw is jealously and this is exposed and twisted by Iago. Iago uses this to make Othello do what he wants without knowing the costs. Many Shakespearean plays could be comedies if written slightly differently. The tragedy of Othello´s character is highlighted by the comedy of Roderigo who suffers the same fate. Although the audience laughed at the stupidity of Roderigo they couldn´t see the humor in the blindness of Othello at the hands of the same villain.

Othello is a General and a hero, many people consider Othello to be a hero and others such as Iago and Roderigo who are envious of the power and respect shown to him despite his colour. In Elizabethan times it wasn´t anti-social to be racist. In this play Othello is refereed to “as his Moorship” or “thick lips” on many occasion by Iago and Roderigo, this shows that they don´t have any respect for him as a person or a general. Both these men hat Othello and want some revenge against him.

“I hate the Moor”. This quote by Iago is showing his hatred towards Othello. Iago dislikes Othello because he had promoted Cassio instead of him due to his breeding. Also Iago thinks Othello has had an affair with Emilia Iago´s wife. From the beginning we see that Iago has a grudge against Othello. Iago truly hates Othello, but Desdomona loves him.

“I may profess due to the Moor my lord”. This quote by Desdomona is during the courtroom scene. In this scene Othello shows his heroic nature when he stands up to Brabantio about his marriage to Desdomona. He refuses to give in under the pressure and proves to be a very dignified character.

“Where hast thou stowed my daughter”. Othello remains so calm. He respects her father and thinks her father will stand by his decision because of his military standing and success, “Her father loves me; often invited me; from year to year – the battle, siege, fortunes that I have passed”

The first time we see the weakness in Othello, is when he comes down to sort out a fight between Cassio and Roderigo/ Montano. He only listens to Roderigos and Montanos side of the story, which is told by Iago. He relieves Cassio of his position without listening to his side of the story. We can compare Othello to the Duke of Venice. The Duke of Venice when in court listens to both sides of the argument before making a decision, Othello has not done this he has just taken the first thing he hears and believed it. We could say that Othello is not a good leader compared to the Duke.

Othello´s lack of judgement is reshown when he lets Suspicion of Desdomona having an affair with Cassio take over his mind stopping all rational thought. He asks the opinion of Emilia (Desdomona´s handmaid and Iago´s wife) “You have seen nothing then?” Even though she replied “Nor ever heard, nor ever did suspect” he does not believe her because his poisoned mind can´t accept it.

Despite disregarding Emilia he takes the side of her husband Iago who starts the whole thing in the first place. Iago is jealous because he is always overlooked by people and in the shadows of others. He knows the only way to get in office is to get Cassio out. He does this by making him look irresponsible in the eyes on Othello. The opportunity comes when Cassio is to run the victory celebrations. Iago gets Cassio drunk and also makes Roderigo challenge him. Cassio and Roderigo fight and Montano tries to break it up and gets injured. Then everything is ended Iago consults him. He tells him that he should get Desdomona to convince Othello to reinstate him of his position. Cassio agrees to do this only because he wants to be reinstated. “I will beseech the virtuous Desdomona to undertake for me”. At this point Iago is able to persuade Othello that they is something going on between Cassio and Desdomona, and to make Othello jealous.

Later on in the play Othello´s fatal flaw is exposed to the audience when we see him turn to be a jealous man. Evidence of this would be when Desdomona asks him to help Cassio “good love, call him back” and his reaction is cold and bear in emotion. Othello´s lack of good judgement is laid out in his soliloquy, which points out that he is very obsessive “ I think my wife be honest, and think she is not” then in the same speech he produces very suspicious views. Whilst Iago is supplying Othello´s suspicions with lies.

Now not even an act later Othello´s mind has been total over run if jealousy, so much he has fits that paralyses his mind and body. This affects him so much he must kill his wife and her so called lover Cassio. The deed is to be carried out on the bed in which the sin was made. Despite wanting to kill her Desdomona´s feelings for Othello are still high with love. “I will not stay to offend you”. Although Othello can´t believe her innocent she is still in love with him and will let him kill her to clear his mind.

Despite wanting to kill his wife Othello´s love for her still remains. In his soliloquy before killing Desdomona he states his love for her, but however Othello thinks murder is the only punishment worthy of betrayal “yet she must die, else she´ll betray more men” Othello´s jealousy is now at peak level, he still can´t show rational though and is blind about the true horror he is about to do.

After killing his bride he is brought out of his trance and realises the mistakes he has made. Iago´s scheme is brought out into the open. Emilia brings out the scheme when the truth is told about the true goings on. At this point in the play Othello´s heroic qualities are put on show for the audience once more. Having realized the horror of the situation he takes full blame for his actions and commits suicide and lies next to his beloved bride to die.

Othello´s fatal flaw is quite noticeable throughout the play, but is mostly noticed when Iago twists it to get what he wants. Othello believed the lies told to him by Iago. Othello was insecure, he thought that a woman as beautiful as Desdomona could never love someone like him and this drove him to believe the outrageous lies said by Iago. Othello should have weight out the facts and not jumped to a conclusion. After the play an audience would be drained of emotion Greeks call this catharsis, and the tragedy of Othello sure does this.


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